Like Y Combinator, Plug and Play Tech Center is a startup accelerator located in the heart of Silicon Valley, although you may not have heard quite as much about Plug and Play as you have its counterpart. Nothwithstanding, the five-year-old business accelerator has built a community of over 280 tech startups, across a number of verticals, including Web 2.0, cloud services, systems, semiconductor and telecomms. Since its inception, the tech center has helped its startups raise over $750 million in venture funding.
Not unlike Y Combinator and other accelerators of its ilk, Plug and Play hosts a 10-week summer program designed to immerse young startups and entrepreneurs into the Silicon Valley environment. “Plug and Play Startup Camp”, as its known, provides startups with a curriculum of workshops, speaker series, mentor sessions, as well as offering extensive coaching to help entrepreneurs cement business models, prototypes, and so on. This summer camp for startups runs through August 18th, at which point there will be an EXPO to showcase the accelerator’s latest batch.
Plug and Play also organizes 4 EXPOs (unrelated to Startup Camp) at the end of each quarter, as well as 2 University EXPOs, in which a host of startups present their businesses to as many as 100 VCs and investors. Those esteemed judges vote on the top three companies, which then presumably go on to fame and fortune — or at least have a good shot at raising a bit of funding.
The latest EXPO in the Plug and Play series took place Thursday, and below you will find a brief introduction to the three nifty startups that tallied the most votes and impressed the judges. Definitely worth checking out.
Aisle411 is an in-store retail navigation app for mobile consumers. The startup is building a mobile shopping platform that allows consumers to search, map and navigate to products in retail stores down to the very part of the aisle in which the product is located.
With billions of pre-planned digital shopping lists, aisle411 is set to allow digital publishers to integrate the startup’s in-store solutions with digital lists, recipes, and mobile coupons. aisle411’s ad network has early brand buy-in from Coca Cola, General Mills, as well as several other retail partnerships and is already live in 1500 locations.
Over 70 percent of shoppers use a list prior to shopping, and as smartphone saturation grows, the majority of shopping lists and products searches will be executed in-store on a mobile device. As Google Wallet, Paypal and Square look to deploy mobile payments, aisle411 offers highly targeted, high margin offers delivered seconds prior to the purchase. The startup is also offering an API that includes a proprietary in-store ad engine that can target messaging to specific user based on their current and historical shopping lists, as specific as branded products within specific aisles. Pretty cool.
Creaza Inc is an online video production platform designed to enable users to collaboratively produce, share and store user-generated video. By combining the power of cloud-based computing and broadcast-quality HD, with a user-focused experience, Creaza’s platform is attempting to make video truly social.
Creaza’s social video platform enables users to shoot, edit, share and store their self-generated videos. Content can be shot with any video-enabled decice and easily syncs with the user’s private Creaza media library — all in the cloud. Users can edit their video clips with professional-looking titles, transitions, effects, animation, music and narration. The startup’s cloud-based architecture enables easy and secure video project collaboration and co-creation among friends, colleagues and others. Final videos can be shared in an online workspace: downloaded to a favorite device or stored with Creaza. Everything happens in the cloud. No installs, no upgrade, ad no file conversions.
The startup says that it’s trying to transform the video industry. I like the sound of that, but you be the judge.
XYZ Interactive is developing a series of low cost sensors that can be used to determine the precise location of objects, and use gestures to control devices without touching them. (Kind of like what Gilt Groupe is doing with their iPad app.)
The startup claims that its technology can replace competitors’ sensors at a fraction of the cost with better performance. Advanced sensing arrays are three times less expensive than the competition and overcome limitations such as blind spots and outdoor operation, allowing for mass adaption for touchless and gesture control of displayes, tablets, and mobile devices.
XYZ’s tech is adding depth, touchless control to your devices to help make them smarter, ranging from enabling simple presence, distance and gesture measurement in mobile and consumer electronics devices — to complex 6DOF 3D (six degrees of freedom in three dimensions) absolute position information as required un augmented reality environments, sport simulations, home and industrial automation, retail sales conversion, novel interactive toy and display controllers, and hospital environments.
With granted, pending, and provisional patents, XYZ Interactive provides the technology for sensors and systems to precisely, and very inexpensively, locate objects in 3D to within millimeters of accuracy at meters of range. Awesome stuff.